Assessing the Benefits and Economic Feasibility of Stand Improvement for Central Hardwood Forests

Yangyang Wang, Wu Ma, Lenny D. Farlee, Elizabeth A. Jackson, Guofan Shao, Thomas Ochuodho, Jingjing Liang, Mo Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Stand improvement (SI) has been widely accepted as an effective forest management tool. Yet most studies on its economic feasibility for nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) landowners are outdated and focus on the single stand level. The objective of this study was to conduct an economic assessment of SI's effects and feasibility in hardwood stands for a case study in the White River Basin in Indiana. It is shown that SI could make these forests more productive and sustainable than the prevalent "hands-off"practice by enhancing the timber value of the residual stand (TV), generating regular timber income, and to some degree, reversing the decline in oak dominance. On average, a 25% increment in the TV could be achieved. Although costly for some NIPFs, once combined with voluntary financial incentive programs, SI could meet landowners' demands for low-cost, high-return investment options. In particular, participation in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program could, on average, increase the net present value of timber income from thinning activities by nearly $1,600 per hectare over the course of 30 years. The spatial analysis revealed that there existed considerable spatial heterogeneity in SI benefits and impacts, suggesting that public incentive programs should be spatially targeted to achieve greater efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-311
Number of pages15
JournalForest Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of American Foresters. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected].


  • hardwood
  • management
  • nonindustrial private forest
  • oak
  • timber stand improvement
  • voluntary incentive programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Ecological Modeling


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